28 Feb 2018

New election law in Poland -- the art of wasting 145 million euros

Elections in Poland must now be recorded and streamed online. With too little funds and and not enough time to design and install cameras at all polling stations, the move may paralyze the upcoming local elections.

Zuzanna Piechowicz
Zuzanna Piechowicz Tok FM, Poland
Source: Tok FM

New election law in
Poland -- the art of wasting 145 million euros
 - NewsMavens
Election. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The National Electoral Commision (PKW) estimates that in order to conduct the elections and referendums scheduled for 2018, they need 605 million zlotys (approx. 145 million euros). Where will the government draw the funds from? Which art institution or women's rights organization will lose funding this time?

However, financial issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

The new law will trigger a serious breach in the protection of personal data.

The election broadcasts will create a visual database of 15 million Poles, available to everyone in the world, including national and foreign intelligence services.

In theory, a malfunction of the streaming system or a lack of recordings would not affect the validity of an election. However, it is obvious that the ruling nationalist party, PiS, would dismiss a loss as rigged or invalid. And once they decide to disregard an election result, no institution will be have the power to make them accept it -- after all, they're already ignoring the judgements of the Constitutional Court.

Poland already has a sham president and a powerless Constitutional Court. Will it have make-believe elections as well?

politics, human rights

Details from the story:

  • Local elections are scheduled to take place between October 17 and November 9, 2018.
  • Poles will vote in 26,000 polling stations.
  • “It will take at least 6 months to create the infrastracture to implement the new law,” dr Radosław Nielek, engeneering expert at the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology, claims.
  • Each polling station has a different design, interior and light, so it is impossible to use the same equipment everywhere. What's more, the recording must be of an extremely high quality, which raises questions about storing the tapes from 26 thousand stations.
  • The system hence requires custom-made cameras (at least 26,000 ones), technical service, data transmission and storage facilities.
  • “The problem is that the majority of the shortcomings that could occur in the polling stations are very small manipulations (with the use of pen or additional sheets of paper). This means that we need very high resolution: full HD or even more depending on the location of the camera,” dr Nielek estimates.
  • Only the computers, printers and scanners will cost 103 million zloty. In general, PKW needs addional 605 million zloty (145 million euros) to conduct the scheduled elections this year.
  • According to the law, the lack of broadcast or recordings from the polling station will not affect the validity of the election.
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